Metro to soon air previously held council meetings via YouTube

Friday, February 4, 2011 at 6:11pm

Tracking down footage from archived Metro Council meetings is about to get a little easier.

In what officials are calling a simple step to create a more open government, Metro Information Technology Services is preparing to air previously held council meetings on YouTube, eventually bringing school board and other commission meetings to the popular video-sharing Web site.

Keith Durbin, director of Metro’s IT services, told The City Paper Friday his department has been gradually encoding council videos to reformat existing footage to accommodate YouTube. He said he hopes to test the quality of the videos in the next couple of weeks, with an official announcement of the new initiative coming afterwards.

Metro already airs council meetings, along with other board and commission gatherings, on Metro3 and streams them on www.nashville.gov. But citizens who desire to watch past council meetings are required to purchase a DVD or VHS tape at the Metro3 office in the basement of the Metro Courthouse.

“It’s an easy way to increase transparency,” Durbin said of the YouTube approach. “We are obviously putting council meetings and school board meetings, and a number of other meetings, out on nashville.gov as it is. So, this is just getting at another opportunity for the public to easily find those things and review them.”

YouTube typically has a 15-minute length limit for videos on its site, but Durbin said governments are exempt from this policy. 

"YouTube makes it easy,” he said. “For governments, they lift time-based restrictions on videos.”

The first wave of council meetings to hit YouTube, Durbin said, will be gatherings that occurred during the current fiscal year, which began in July. He said his department would then start to add other meetings to the site on a gradual basis.

“Council meetings are the first phase,” he said. “The second phase will be school board meetings, and then we will be adding on other meetings as Metro3 staff gets in the groove doing that and becomes comfortable with that.”

Durbin said eventually he hopes council meetings, which occur on Tuesday nights, could go up on YouTube the following day.

“I think that’s feasible,” he said.